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tv   2020  ABC  September 22, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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>> reporter: i'm jock judiciary committee. that's our show for tonight. from all of us at abc, good night. >> why would why would you want your husband killed? >> i can't wake up and say i wants to kill my ex-husband. >> tonight on "20/20" a successful vet and single mom recording her most private thoughts. her handsome boyfriend md. a ladies' man with a past. >> without sounding porch pause i always understood women very well and they have always liked me. >> together did this a-list couple decide to kill instead of heal? >> accused of hiring a hitman to kill their respective exes. >> i'm not a mops store that wanted my ex-girlfriend killed. >> did they cook up a plot at the olive garden? >> between the bottom list salad and the bread sticks that police say the happy couple ordered something that was not on the
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menu. a murder. >> but the police are on the trail and tonight we're taking you inside their elaborate sting. >> why are we being arrested? >> the body cam footage of the arrest. >> i have to go to the bathroom pl your best friend go from wearing doctor's scrubs to an orange jumpsuit? >> his jailhouse interview. >> i wouldn't hurt a fly. >> and the biggest shocker of all. their exes aren't dead but someone else will be. what i'm trying>> tor. understand is are you dr. jekyll or are you mr. hyde? >> love at first sting. good evening i'm elizabeth var gauze. >> the incredible story of two people accused of an alleged murder for hire plot. one of them a doctor sitting behind bars as we come on the air for what police was an elaborate plot fueled by revenge and obsession. he says they have got it all
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wrong. >> but the other person, his girlfriend a successful veterinarian left her side of the story on tape, an audio diary. will it just be a love story gone wrong or a confession to a crime? here's matt gutman. >> hey, it's valley mcdaniel and it's march 15, 2017. i'm sitting outside. and i wanted to take time, and tell my story. from the beginning. try not to judge me. >> reporter: it's been said that only good girls keep diaries. bad girls don't have time. well, 48-year-old valerie mcdaniel took time to confide her most private, innermost thoughts in an audio diary she recorded on her ipad. she talks about her daughter. >> she's the most precious thing to me. >> reporter: her adventures as a new divorcee. >> a 48-year-old woman trying to start to date, not a good thing.
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>> reporter: and also in that diary, it sounds as if she's harboring a bone-chilling secret. >> i never wanted to hurt anyone. i hate the idea that everybody thinks i'm a monster. >> reporter: a monster? that's not a word her friends would ever use to describe her. >> valerie was an amazing human being. she had a light with -- within her. >> i felt honored to have her as my friend. she was so successful and so beautiful and funny and intelligent. >> reporter: 2017 started on a high note for valerie. she is living in river oaks, the beverly hills of houston, where her neighbors are the likes of multimillionaire pastor joel osteen. >> god controls the universe. >> there are definitely high-profile, wealthy individuals who live in river oaks. >> reporter: valerie enjoys the view from the balcony of her spacious two bedroom condo, a perk of her thriving veterinary practice. >> she just poured her heart and soul into veterinary medicine. just a really giving, caring individual.
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>> reporter: dr. brittany king worked for valerie. >> i looked up to her as a mentor and a -- you know, an inspiration. i would hope to be like her someday. >> reporter: when she wasn't tending to her furry friends, the affluent animal doctor spent weekends on tiki island near galveston, where she generously hosted friends at her $700,000 beach home. >> we always karaoked. ♪ we could learn to love again >> it was a lot of fun. we swam. we just enjoyed each other's company. >> she would always prepare these amazing dinners for us. >> reporter: now, when you guys had these dinners, there was one thing that was always missing, and that is valerie's husband. >> uh-huh. >> correct. >> reporter: what did she tell you about her marriage? >> she did not feel loved. her husband was never around. >> reporter: valerie complained to those friends that mac, her husband and business partner at the pet clinic, was always out doing his own thing, like hunting. but valerie later confided to
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them she thought he was really out hunting other women. she says a woman called the clinic one day claiming to have proof. >> she gave me lists of women that he had slept with. snethathere had been some adultery. i knew that because she talked to me about it. >> and it's hard to watch someone in that much pain. >> reporter: so much pain she filed for divorce after 17 years, citing "conflict of personalities and adultery." it was a bitter split, but they did agree on shared custody of their now nine-year old daughter. >> she was just unhappy. there was a void that wasn't being filled there. >> reporter: until, that is, she meets this man. leon jacob, a brash doctor eight years her junior. >> valerie is one of the most amazing human beings that i'd ever met. she was nice and kind and giving and educated, and a great
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mother. >> reporter: they met by happenstance when valerie, still miserable in her marriage, lived next door to leon's mother. the sight of leon hardly swept her off her feet. >> he ran up to me and introduced himself. the cockiest [ bleep ] i'd ever met in my life. i was completely turned off immediately by his attitude. i was drawn to him, but disgusted at the same time. >> reporter: so just describe the moment you really noticed being attracted to her. >> i saw her in a bathing suit. if you want me to be very -- open about it, that's when i first noticed that she was a knockout and that i was attracted to her. >> reporter: and eventually, she to him. >> i got through that exterior, and realized he was a nice person, thd ane hatacwa not all that [ bleep ] that he tried to portray himself as. and i really liked what was underneath it. >> reporter: underneath was a man raised with privilege. he attended the best private schools. winter breaks were spent skiing in vail, summers in maine.
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and i work out a lot. >> reporter: after college, he went to medical school in the caribbean. >> i'm a very driven, type-a, alpha personality male. but i have a heart of gold. >> reporter: but it wasn't only his pedigree that wooed the woebegone veterinarian. >> i was lonely. and he kept me company. he listened to me. it was everything i needed. >> reporter: the now-single mom finally finding love again. and this past january, it looked as if they're both finally free for one another after leon and his girlfriend split up. >> she knew i was goin' through a really bad time. it was funny, 'cause one night we were laying on our balcony and she looked at me and she goes, "do i have you?" and i said, "yes." >> she was very much in love with him. i mean, she said it multiple times. "i'm in -- i'm completely in love with him." >> reporter: but valerie's friend maggie had some misgivings about leon. what didn't you like about him? >> very arrogant and full of himself. i've just never seen anything
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quite like that, and i've got a pretty strong intuition about people, and i did not feel good about it. and i let her know that. >> reporter: but valerie wouldn't hear it. the dashing doctors with seemingly so much in common. >> we talked science together, we both loved astronomy, we had a telescope in our apartment, we used to look at the -- you know, the constellations. >> reporter: that sounds like 57 days of bliss, right? isn't that the number you put on it? >> yes. >> reporter: but you know what they say -- if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. those two months of bliss shockingly end this past march, when valerie mcdaniel, who had just found a second chance at love, jumps to her death from that seventh floor balcony. >> valerie mcdaniel left a note detailing her last wishes before apparently jumping to her death from that condo. >> it was just as much a shock to me as it was to everybody else around her. >> reporter: coming up -- what
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do friends believe drove valerie mcdaniel literally over the edge? >> i don't forgive him. i'll never forgive him. >> reporter: and what was that secret she was taking along to her grave? >> this has been a long, drawn out story that's led to an unbelievable, unbelievable conclusion. >> reporter: stay with us. today, we're out here with some big news about type 2 diabetes. you have type 2 diabetes, right? yes. so let me ask you this... how does diabetes affect your heart? it doesn't, does it? actually, it does. type 2 diabetes can make you twice as likely to die from a cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke. and with heart disease, your risk is even higher. you didn't know that. no. yeah. but, wait, there's good news for adults who have type 2 diabetes and heart disease. jardiance is the only type 2 diabetes pill with a lifesaving cardiovascular benefit. jardiance is proven to both significantly reduce the chance of dying from a cardiovascular event in adults who have type 2 diabetes and heart disease
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woohoo! you'll ask, what pain? new advil liqui-gels minis. >> reporter: the death of dr. valerie mcdaniel sent shockwaves through the affluent
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texas community of river oaks. co-workers held a vigil at the veterinarian clinic she so cherished. >> yeah, chauncey, by all accounts the montrose veterinary clinic was valerie mcdaniel's life. those who knew her here are now mourning her death. >> valerie was a wonderful person >> reporter: her close friends in a state of shock -- >> we couldn't believe it. >> reporter: a boyfriend left to ponder what might have been. >> we'd shared an apartment, we had an account -- bank accounts together, and we had told people we were getting married. >> we now know that valerie mcdaniel left a note detailing her final wishes. >> reporter: that wasn't all she left behind. before her death, valerie mcdaniel recorded her final thoughts on an ipad. >> i fell deeply in love with leon during the whole incident at the end of my marriage. >> reporter: leon jacob can be charming and disarming. just ask him. >> it seems like you're almost some svengali, with this one-flick of the finger, you
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know, just making this woman fall madly in love with you. >> without sounding like a toouodpo mps s as women really well and they've always liked me. >> reporter: former fbi profiler and abc news consultant brad garrett says guys like leon present well. >> leon is somebody that will always be able to get into a relationship, because he's willing to put the energy into it on the front end. >> reporter: but it's the back end of some of leon's relationships that have been problematic. like the one with his first wife, annie. >> we would fight, fight, fight, and love, love, love, fight, fight, fight, love, love, love. it was just -- it was one of those relationships that people are like, "god, they're crazy, but they're their crazy, and we love that." >> reporter: but after 11 years, annie must have had enough crazy. she filed for divorce and would later press charges for aggravated stalking and intimidation. court documents say he made
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calls, sent texts and e-mails threatening to inflict bodily harm. >> attempted cyber harassment is what i plead guilty to. yes. she went a little overboard with her complaints about me. >> reporter: leon's personal struggles mirror his professional life which has been unraveling for years, says assistant district attorney samantha knecht. >> he's a danger as a physician and he's also a danger out in the community. >> reporter: here's the not-so-illustrious timeline -- 2005 -- leon graduates from med school on the island of grenada and enters a residency program at the university of texas. he's let go in 2010 and his physician-in-training certificate is terminated. 2010 -- enters an ohio residency program, but a supervisor says he lied about patient care following a surgery and overall had a lack of medical knowledge. >> he was kicked out, because he wasn't being truthful with the people that were superngsivi >> reporter: those supervisors later find leon to be an immediate
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threat to patient safety and he's fired. leon sues but a judge rules against him, writing -- >> "the likelihood of harm to the hospital's patients is significant if dr. jacob is restored to his previous employment. interest to return dr. jacob to the residency program." >> i -- i understand that -- >> "by reason of his deficiencies and apparent inability to acknowledge or correct these deficiencies." >> you know, these are statements -- some people that wanted me out wanted me out pretty badly. >> that's leon job. it's always somebody else's fault. >> reporter: then in 2012, it goes from cautionary to downright criminal in ohio. leon jacob is charged with burglary at the home of a hospital administrator. he eventually pleads guilty to criminal trespass. >> he for some reason continued to believe that he was being wronged by the system. >> reporter: by 2016, leon has fallen on hard times and files for bankruptcy. >> when i hear, "he has a imme think, "oh, well, where is he
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practicing medicine?" nowhere. >> reporter: by this time, leon had met a woman named meghan. they had been dating until a big fight back this past january. one that brought cops to meghan's apartment. >> according to the police report, you busted her lip -- >> okay. >> when you put -- >> that's true? i never put any hand on her. we were fighting, i shouldn't have put my hand anywhere near her face. i didn't touch her in any way. i was simply trying to calm, but she bit my hand, and in that time, she bit her own lip. and subsequently, that charge has been dropped because there was no evidence. >> reporter: charges dropped, yes. but leon won't let meghan drop off his radar. >> but you kept on pursuing her, despite the fact that she told you not to? >> i kept on pursuing her for a little bit, yeah. but cops do charge leon with stalking. >> the ex-girlfriend says that he hides in the bushes and waits outside her work place. >> reporter: here's the 911 call from a concerned co-worker.
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>> the person is stalking my boss so when we came out of work just now he tried to duck down and then got in his car and tried to leave. >> reporter: but on that 911 call, it sounds like leon jacob is not done. he doubles back for another look. >> he circled back around. that's what i'm saying, like, since the previous time that we called over 20 minutes ago ,he's actually managed to come back by the property. >> you know you've been spotted. you know you're doing a bad thing and you keep doing it. he plays by his rules. >> you're charge with stalking and with -- they caught you in the bushes outside her office -- >> there are -- >> building -- >> no bushes out -- there are no bushes outside her office building. >> they caught you loitering outside her office. >> she -- she says that. people can claim a lot of things, right? you can say -- you know, "superman came down and took me into kryptonite --- you know, krypton for the weekend." it doesn't make it true. >> reporter: another romance in tatters. and leon is once again free to
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pursue a new love, and that's how he winds up with the vet, valerie mcdaniel. as for meghan? she's gone but not forgotten. when we come back -- authorities say leon has a devious plan to tie up loose ends with his ex. >> he's got a problem. a legal problem. and according to prosecutors the way that he's going to eliminate that problem is by eliminating her. >> reporter: stay with us. atinu, including those with an abnormal alk or egfr gene who've tried an fda-approved targeted therapy, here's a question: who wouldn't want a chance for another...? who'd say no to a...? who wouldn't want... a chance to live longer. opdivo (nivolumab). opdivo demonstrated longer life versus chemotherapy. over 40,000 of these patients have been prescribed opdivo. opdivo works with your immune system.
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>> reporter: houston, texas. affectionately nicknamed "the big heart." the perfect backdrop for leon jacob, a wannabe surgeon whose linked-in page would have you believe he's transplanting hearts by day, all while captts by night.urg arinhe >> reporter: you know how to talk to women. >> yeah, i do. i respect them very much. and most men don't treat them that way. >> reporter: by now, he's in the loving arms of a new woman, successful single mom valerie mcdaniel. although he's happy to be in a
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new relationship, he privately stews over why his ex-girlfriend meghan has dumped him. >> i'm not 100% sure to this day why she ran away like she did. >> reporter: megan's gone, but her stalking charge against him lingers. >> he's got a problem, a legal problem, a criminal legal problem. >> reporter: also a problem because leon still doesn't have a license to practice medicine. and a felony conviction may certainly keep him from ever getting one. >> reporter: and according to prosecutors the way that he's goin' to eliminate that problem is by eliminating her. >> that's right, the man who took an oath to "do no harm" is allegedly trying to "do-in" his ex-girlfriend meghan! >> reporter: investigators say that's what leads leon to this guy. a former army sergeant and purple heart recipient who calls himself zach. these days, zach is bringing new meaning to the term soldier of fortune.
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cop says zach promises to take care of leon's problem -- for a price. a price that includes $5,000 cash, two cartier watches and a laptop as a down payment for the job. but here's the thing -- >> the prosecutor said that zac hitman. >> reporter: according to investigators, zach takes the money and runs, without ever firing a single shot. >> that was zach's story. he said he was never going to go through with the murder. >> reporter: feeling swindled, cops say leon tries to hunt down zach and begins his search with a guy who has seen his share of shady characters. >> reporter: how does a nice fella like you get involved in something like this? >> well, i bonded somebody out of jail. and his name happened to be leon jacob. >> reporter: meet bail bondsman michael kubosh. he not only bonded out leon on the stalking charge, he once put up bond for zach too! >> he didn't offer to shake my hand. he said, "i'm -- i'm leon jacob.
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and i want zach's number." and i said, well, why do you need zach?" and he said, "i've paid him a lot of money to take care of this matter." and i said, "to take care of what?" he said, "i want her out of the picture." >> reporter: now kubosh says he's beginning to get the picture and it's not pretty. >> and the way he talked to me, i felt like was -- i was talkin' to satan himself. >> reporter: kubosh does his civic duty and calls the police who quickly contact meghan and put her in a safe house, under police protection. next, they haul in zach, the would-be hitman in the alleged plot. zach talks, and talks, and talks. according to prosecutor nathan moss. >> so zach tells us that mr. jacob has hired him to kill the victim in this case. >> reporter: but now zach is working with the cops and that's a game-changer. prosecutors say that with police secretly listening in, zach calls and informs leon he's outsourced the job.
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>> they have zach call leon and say, "hey, i got a guy. he's gonna do the hit for us." >> reporter: but that new guy is actually an undercover cop -- named javiwe. erbee 'vensk to not show his face. >> once i am involved in the murder plot that we are able to control the situation. >> reporter: javier says as the call continues, all is going according to plan. until leon poses aueion. nathan moss, when they're talking on the phone, leon says, "are they gonna take care of both issues?" >> reporter: both issues? >> so hpd is learning, "oh, there's a second person they're trying to take care of." >> upon hearing that i was shocked, that leon wanted two people killed. and that his girlfriend valerie would also be involved. >> reporter: his girlfriend valerie. the vet and new love in his life. cops say they learn she's also in on the plot. and that second person they
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allegedly want whacked? her ex-husband, mack. >> leon did tell me that he also wanted to have valerie's ex-husband removed from the picture. >> and at that point, they decide to meet at the olive garden. >> reporter: the olive garden, with its family-friendly ambiance, not really the kind of place you'd expect a murder-for-hire strategy session to go down. >> it was very obvious to me during that first meeting that leon was serious about killing megan and mack. >> reporter: so they were sitting at this table? >> yes. >> reporter: at this very table, somewhere between the breadsticks and the bolognese, sits one strange quartet. the vet valerie mcdaniel, beau leon jacob, zach and undercover officer javier posing as a contract killer. >> what did they look like when they came in here? >> so valerie had actually come in from work, so she was literally wearing scrubs from the vet clinic along with doctor mcdaniel monogrammed on -- on
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the scrub jacket. >> reporter: wow. so, again, not trying to hide her identity? >> no, not trying to hide her identity at all. >> reporter: cops say leon has made his target clear. >> he told me on more than one occasion, that his survival is more important than hers that he was a lot more important than her. >> reporter: as leon and zach take a cigarette break cops say the undercover javier and valerie are left alone to discuss intended target number two, valerie's ex "mack." >> and i asked her are you sure you want to do this. and she said i have no other choice. he's going to take my baby from me. >> reporter: she was worried about him taking full custody of the girl. >> and he finally gets her to say that she does, in fact, want him to be killed. >> and that's when he said, "well, if you want that done, it's gonna be another $10,000." and valerie said, "okay, i have to pay you out in installments of it, but i'll pay you $10,000." >> reporter: money is tight for valerie, thanks to that divorce settlement.
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she agreed to pay her ex over a million bucks for his share of the vet clinic. >> she had just gotten divorced and taken a loan out of $1.2 million to pay mack mcdaniel as part of that divorce. so liquidity may have been an issue for them. >> reporter: so she had to pay $1.25 million in the divorce? >>he had to ta been on the menu, but the cops say, two murders were ordered here. >> reporter: coming up -- cops make a house call as cameras roll. >> we have some bad news. >> the elaborate charade by police to smoke out the alleged conspirators, is caut on tape. >> why are we being arrested? >> next. i no longer live with the uncertainties of hep c. wondering, what if? i let go of all those feelings. because i am cured with harvoni. harvoni is a revolutionary treatment for the most common type of chronic hepatitis c. it's been prescribed to more than a quarter million people.
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>> reporter: it's time for the check at this olive garden restaurant. and picking up the tab for that delicious, affordable, and allegedly conspiratorial lunch
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is dr. leon jacob and his girlfriend, dr. valerie mcdaniel. >> i believe leon and valerie paid for the bill. >> that was very nice of them. >> reporter: now remember, the cops say leon and val thought they'd been dining with a hitman, but javier was really an undercover cop. so police spring into action, immediately reaching out to valerie's ex husband mac to tip him off. and what they get mac to do next is right out of a john grisham novel! we've recreated the scene to show how the cops enlisted mac to stage his own death. >> they do a series of pictures of him dead. >> reporter: he agrees to pose for photos like these, complete with a bullet wound in his head. >> we wanted to make it look like he had been killed in a robbery. we took a series of them, one slumped over the steering wheel and shot in the head and the other one laying on the ground, shot in the head.
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>> reporter: cops have also gotten to leon's ex, meghan. >> does she express any surprise that leon jacob, the man who loved her so much and then stalked her, allegedly, would want this to happen to her? >> she is in no way surprised that this happened. she knew that he had a temper. he would explode, and now that she was denying him access to herself, like, he became obsessed with her. >> reporter: meghan also agrees to post for photos like these staging her own set of pictures to make it look like she's been kidnapped. >> leon kept using the word disappear. or he would say, "i want her gone. i want her to go away forever." and i took that to understand that he wanted her dead. >> reporter: but javier says, in the middle of depicting the harrowing scene, it's suddenly all a little too real for meghan. and she breaks down. >> meghan became hysterical. she was very scared for her life. and she actually began to cry and she began to tremble.
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>> reporter: the doomsday photo shoots are done and the cops are ready to take their next step in their elaborate sting operation, informing leon and valerie that mac has been killed. still posing as that hitman, javier says he breaks the news in person at the condo. >> i begin to tell valerie and leon that mac was gone that it was done. i then asked leon if he wanted to see a picture. and he told me that he did not want to see anything. >> if this was a mistake, if, they weren't supposed to go kill the person, kidnap the person, the response would be, "oh my goodness. what have you done? >> reporter: instead, cops say, leon produces the blood money. >> leon gives me the cash and i count out $1,800. >> reporter: according to cops,
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in leon and valerie's minds, with mac dead, meghan is next. and later that same day, javier says, he informs leon, that job too is done, meghan is now a memory. >> i told leon during a recorded conversation, hey megan is dead now. and he said okay, i'll talk to you later. >> so at that point, we've closed both cases. but we decided we wanted to go an extra step. and so that extra step was the death notice. >> reporter: a death notice. now, that's what cops call it when they have to notify a family member or next of kin that a loved one has passed. so now it's these police officers who have to give a performance. just days after that olive garden meeting , sergeant frank quinn and other officers show up at that apartment to break what should be shocking, tragic news for valerie.
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>> yeah, come in. what's going on? >> reporter: now remember, it's all a ruse to get valerie's reaction. and it's all being recorded as potential evidence on police body cameras. >> i'm afraid we have some bad news. your ex-husband, found, it looks like it turns out to be a fatality. looks like it might've been a robbery gone wrong, sorry to have to tell you. have you heard from him recently? >> i heard from him last night. >> you heard from him last night? >> i was at the house last night. >> reporter: valerie's response doesn't seem particularly appropriate , according to sergeant quinn. >> it was not what you would expect. in reality you'd wanna know, how do you know this? you'd definitely have a lot of questions, and a lot of grief, in the video, valerie sits quietly, putting her head in her hands. javier is there too.
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you can't see him on camera but valerie does and realized her hitman is actually a cop. >> i had my houston police department badge around my neck and her, her facial expressions said a million words. she knew she had been caught. >> d your husband know of anybody who might want to harm him? >> now your boyfriend, is he awake? you might want to let him know what's going on and i'm sorry. >> reporter: soon enough, leon emerges from the bedroom. >> her ex-husband's been found. >> oh my god. >> looks like a might've been a robbery-gone-wrong >> holy [ bleep ]. >> reporter: now, listen carefully to what leon says next, because cops say it's sounding like he's establishing his whereabouts. >> are you okay, baby?
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we've been here all night. we were here all day with their daughter and we were watching movies. i never met him except for once. my name is leon jacob. i'm her boyfriend. >> what he wants to do is establish an alibi, let ya know right away it's not him. you know, and then feigning that surprise, it's -- it was all rehearsed, in my opinion. >> was he worried about anything? >> i don't know. >> i met him once a long time ago. that was it. >> is it strange for a man who hasn't been yet accused of anything to immediately offer an alibi, unsolicited? >> oh, absolutely. absolutely. i think right there, that's great evidence for us. >> reporter: more than enough, police now believe, to end the masquerade. >> alright, well, i'll tell you we'll need you to come with us, and -- >> oh, so i guess i'll stay -- >> okay, what -- right now we're gonna read you your rights. >> me? >> 'cause both of you are being arrested. >> for what? >> for solicitation of capital murder.
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>> why? >> solicitation of murder. >> why are we being arrested? >> just put your palms together. >> reporter: oh, and there's yet another surprise for valerie in store. as she's being hauled off to jail, someone's waiting outside her front door. it's her ex-husband mac back fr the dead waiting to take custody of their young daughter. >> he stands at the threshold of the apartment. they allow her to go get her daughter. she brings the daughter to the threshold and then hands the daughter off to mack. >> and that was the last time that she saw her daughter? >> it was. >> reporter: i wonder what was going through her mind at that moment that she handed her over to the man she tried to murder? knowing that it was all over. her child, her career, her freedom are slipping away but valerie's love for leon endures for one final kiss.
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when we come back, valerie takes her own life before her trial. but not before making that haunting audio diary. >> it wasn't like bam, bam, bam, a progression. things just gradually happened. >> reporter: a voice from the grave, but will it contain a full confession? and, will it point the finger at leon? >> are you a person who's capable of murder? >> no. i really wouldn't hurt a fly. if i didn't have to. >> that's quite a qualifier. >> reporter: our jailhouse interview, still ahead. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ for those who know what they're really building. always unstoppable.
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we continue now with more of "20/20." once again matt gutman. >> both of you are being arrested. >> reporter: the suspects went as far as to plan out how they wanted their exes to be, quote, taken care of. ordinarily, doctors wear scrubs, but not these two. at least not today. led into court wearing orange jumpsuits, charged with allegedly hiring a hit man to kill both their exes.
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four days after the arrest, valerie was released on a $50,000 bond. after a couple days in the cooler, she says, she needs to chill out and goes to see her friends. >> why would you want your husband killed? >> she really did not talk about it at all. i think she knew that it was an uncomfortable situation for everyone. >> we were all trying to be upbeat and positive and, like, it's going to be fine. we can work through this. we, you know, we'll -- we'll help you out. >> we'll support you. >> but she seemed a little -- >> resigned. >> maybe little defeated. there was a look in her eyes that i hadn't quite ever seen before there. >> she knew we weren't going to pry, and ask her a lot of questions about what happened. in hindsight, after she had died, i immediately realized she came there to say goodbye. >> reporter: and in one final, loving gesture to her friend maggie, she pens this letter just before jumping to her death. >> can you read it? >> dear maggie, i'm so very sorry for what i have done, but i am just not strong enough to
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fight all the battles ahead. i'm tired and so scared and so weak. be well and stay safe. all my love, vieeral. >> the death of a murder for hire suspect who jumped from her own condo balcony today. >> people fell to their knees, crying. it -- it was completely just completely shocking. i don't want -- i got a call, and i didn't want to believe it. >> losing her career, and her reputation, and i just think she wasn't going to -- she just didn't want to live like that anymore. mostly losing her daughter. >> absolutely. >> that was the biggest thing. >> reporter: and that audio diary she recorded, apparently a suicide note all along, and is now in the hands of the police. >> i didn't wake up one day, and just say, hey, i wanna kill my ex-husband. things just gradually happened.
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>> reporter: but prosecutors say she did want to do it, and actually confessed after her arrest out in the hallway outside her apartment. >> they keep telling -- to -- having to tell her to speak up. and she says things like, you know, so you wanted your husband killed? you know, you can't nod. you have to say yes, and she'd be like, yes, that's what i wanted. >> no matter how educated she was or brilliant or loving she was, seemingly fell under the spell of leon jacob. val's friends blame leon too. >> do you think he's responsible for her death? >> yeah. >> she wouldn't be where she is now if it wasn't for him. >> how does valerie get from well-respected vet, to hiring a hitman, to suicide? i think that you're going to find the lynchpin of that is leon jacob. >> i do want people to understand that this was not something that she wanted to happen. it's something that happened to her. i truly believe that.
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this was not something that she would have ever done. >> reporter: maggie points out, in the short 8 week period leon and valerie were together, she saw her friend only once. >> she wouldn't hang out with all classic stalker method of operation. you cut them off from their friends. you seclude them. >> reporter: leon denies keeping valerie from her friends. >> you know when you're first in a new relationship you kind of isolate yourselves with your -- you know, with each other. >> reporter: but despite everything that's happened, valerie never turns on leon. >> i know it's going to upset a lot of people, but i love him, but when we come back, is leon about to turn on valerie? >> it seems his defense strategy here is gonna be, it was her fault. she got me into this, and which leon jacob will a jury get to meet? >> what i'm trying to understand is -- are you dr. jekyll or are you mr. hyde? >> reporter: stay with
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>> reporter: valerie's former lover, leon jacob has been sitting in the harris county jail for almost 7 months, he's awaiting trial on charges of stalking and solicitation of murder. when i sat down with him he wouldn't talk about the details of his case but denied any wrongdoing. >> i am innocent of these charges. i still maintain that throughout. i find them to be atrocious in manner because i'm not some
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monster that wanted my ex-girlfriend killed and her ex-husband. i'm a healer by nature. >> did you hold yourself responsible for her suicide? >> no. that was a decision she made on her own. >> so you never thought for a minute that maybe you'd put her in a position that she just couldn't handle and that it drove her to commit suicide? >> no. she had so much pressure on her, and i wasn't there to help support her. >> reporter: leon asked the judge to allow him to attend valerie's funeral but his request was denied. his request to be released on bond was also denied. >> his bond will remain at zero bond. all right. thank you. prominent defense attorney george parnham is representing leon. >> do you know of any recordings -- >> reporter: he gave us a preview of any defense strategy accusing the police of entrapment. >> oh my god -- >> they were active players in this whole solicitation leon's in this pickle, according
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to parhnam -- because of valerie. >> valerie was extremely instrumental in the facts situation that lands my client in jail behind bars. >> if it weren't for valerie, do you think that leon would be facing this charge of murder for hire? >> no, i -- i -- i don't. >> it's awfully convenient, because she's no longer here to defend herself. >> i wish she were here so that i could subject her to cross-examination. >> you're a guy with some of the best pedigree around. you went to the bechon sst lsoo how does a guy like you end up in a place like this? >> that's a really good question. i don't necessarily have an answer for you, and the only thing that i can say about that is, you know, i've been knocked down a bunch in my life, and i always got back up. >> let me explain something about valerie. i feel still today privileged to have been able to know her so intimately. and i did love her. i still do very -- very much --
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very deeply -- i can't tell you how much i -- i cared for that woman. >> both leon jacob's ex-girlfriend and valerie mcdaniel's ex-husband mack declined our request for interviews. >> his trial is scheduled to begin this december. that is our program for tonight. i'm i lez beth vargas. >> for all of o'us here at abc news. thanks for watching. have a good evening. good night. players are
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